California Avocados are grown along the microclimatic coast of central and southern California between San Luis Obispo and the Mexican border. They are harvested annually from spring through the fall by nearly 5,000 growers on 50,000 acres of land. Due to their thick, pebbly skin, the fruit inside of a California Avocado is naturally protected, placing California Avocados amongst the lowest of all fruits and vegetables for pesticide use.
Avocados are harvested by hand with the help of special shears called clippers. Using ladders up to 30 feet high and poles up to 14 feet long to reach the fruit in tall trees, pickers place the harvested fruit in large nylon bags fastened around their shoulders. Each bag holds 30-50 pounds of fruit.
The harvested avocados are carefully placed in large picking bins that can each hold between 600 and 800 pounds of fruit.
The picking bins are transferred by forklift, tractor or trailer from the grove to a large truck which picks up the fruit, hauling it several bins at a time to the packing house.
At the packing house, avocados are immediately put into cold storage for about 24 hours to remove the field heat and to preserve their quality. Then the pre-cooled fruit is ready for packing.
Each bin of avocados is carefully placed on a conveyor belt, which gently tips over the bin, allowing the fruit to roll onto a grading belt, where graders hand check and sort the avocados by size.
Once sorted, the avocados are gently brushed as they roll into packing tubs where they are placed into single or double layer cartons called lugs. The avocado count per lug indicates the size of avocados it holds.
Before the lugs are sealed, the avocados are checked one more time for quality. The sealed lugs are then organized by size and stacked onto pallets of 60 lugs each.
Avocados are shipped from the packing house in refrigerated trucks. If they are being shipped internationally, they are placed in special atmosphere-controlled containers and sent by air freight or cargo ship.
Once these strict quality and freshness procedures are complete, the avocados reach grocers around the country and are ready for purchase.